Rice Pudding Mistakes You Need to Avoid (Plus Solutions!)

Ahh.. rice pudding. The classic dessert we love until now. 

With its thick texture, just the right amount of sweetness, and the wide range of toppings you can use, it’s no surprise that it remains to be one of the best desserts today.

Oh, and let’s not forget– it’s also pretty easy to make. 

After all, it’s just cooked rice, milk, and sugar, right?

Wrong. While the ingredients are pretty simple, there are a lot of things that can go wrong which can prevent you from enjoying rice pudding in all its glory.  

So if you want to enjoy the thick, gooey, and flavorful glob of goodness, you need to be aware of what mistakes you need to avoid.

As the pudding experts that we are, we’re here to help you out. Below, we’ve enumerated some of the most common rice pudding mistakes along with some tips on how to fix them.

If you’re ready, let’s get our rice on!

image of rice pudding

11 Rice Pudding Mistakes You Should Never Do

To create the perfect dessert, here are the mistakes you should avoid making: 

1. Using the Wrong Kind of Rice

Since rice is the main ingredient in the dessert, the type you will use will make or break your recipe. Using the wrong kind will lead to a grainy, dry, and bland pudding, so you must choose it wisely.

To achieve the sticky and starchy goodness that the pudding is known for, using long-grain white variant is the way to go. That’s because it has higher starch content which will give the pudding its creamy, thick, and slightly solid consistency. 

But of course, the variety matters too. 

Some use a simple Jasmine due to its light and fluffy texture. But if you want to take it to a whole new level, use Basmati which will impart a highly fragrant aroma and rich nutty flavor to your dessert. 

Pro Tip:

If you’re on the team short-grain variety, we recommend going for Arborio because it’s extra starchy as compared to its other counterparts. 

2. Not Rinsing the Rice Before Cooking 

Yes, we want starch in our pudding. However, too much starch is also a big no-no because it can make the pudding extra sticky. 

Not only will this ruin its consistency, but it will also cause the pudding to stick to the pan and will make the cleanup a lot more difficult.

To prevent this from happening, you should rinse the rice before cooking. With this simple step, you can remove the unwanted excess starch.

3. Not Pre-cooking the Rice

Have you ever poured your heart into making a pudding yet ended up with a dry, bland, and boring one? That might be because you didn’t pre-cook the rice. 

So why is it important to pre-cook it? The pre-cooking process will help break down the starch. This will allow the rice to absorb the fats from the milk a whole lot easier which will result in a creamier

To do this, just simply boil it for around 30 seconds before adding the milk. It’s as simple as that. 

4. Undercooking or Overcooking the Rice

This dessert is all about the rice and how well it’s cooked. Unfortunately, a lot of people tend to cook it shorter or longer than necessary.

Undercook it and it will end up stiff and dry while overcooking it will cause it to be extra soggy and mushy. Since the dessert is all about texture, you need to learn how to cook the rice properly.

So how long should you cook it? The answer depends on the type you use. 

For reference, here are the recommended cooking times for the different types: (*)

  • Long- and medium-grain types: 15 to 20 minutes
  • Short-grain varieties: 20 to 25 minutes
  • Brown Rice: 30 to 40 minutes

Pro Tip:

A good way to check if it’s already properly cooked is to run your fingers at the back of the spoon you’re using to stir the rice. If the line that you created remains and didn’t seep back together, it means that the it’s good to go!

5. Letting the Rice Boil

Aside from the cooking time, another thing that you also need to pay attention to is the cooking temperature. The key to the perfect texture is to let the rice simmer—but never boil.

To ensure this, it’s important to cook it over low heat—just enough to break down the starch. Never cook it in high heat because there’s a high chance that it will get burnt or stick to the bottom of the pan. 

6. Adding Too Much/Less Rice/Milk

One of the biggest rice pudding mistakes you’ll ever make is not following the right rice: milk ratio. 

When you add too much rice, the pudding becomes too thick. On the other hand, adding too much milk will cause it to become watery, runny, and bland.

So how to fix this? The secret is to stick to the recommended 1:1 rice-to-milk ratio. This means that you should add one part of rice to every part of the milk. 

7. Not Putting Salt

Adding salt to desserts may seem counterintuitive, but it’s a must if you want to enjoy a more flavorful dish. 

Every dessert needs salt. (*

Contrary to popular belief, adding salt to desserts won’t make them salty. Instead, the salt will just balance the sweetness and bring the best out of the dessert’s other flavors. In the case of pudding, it will just highlight its creaminess and vanilla notes.

For best results, avoid the super refined table salt and the iodized stuff. Use only the coarser Kosher salt or salt flakes if you have some.

Also, avoid adding too much salt. Just a pinch or a dash of salt is already enough. 

8. Skipping the Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is not a basic ingredient in this recipe, but you’ll miss out on a lot if you decide to skip it.

This extract is not necessary to make the pudding thicker or creamier. However, it’s highly recommended that you add this if you want to add more depth to the pudding’s flavor. 

Just like salt, it enhances the flavors of all the other ingredients of the dish, making it more flavorful than ever.

Pro Tip:

For a better vanilla taste, ditch the vanilla extract and opt for half a vanilla bean or a vanilla bean paste instead. 

9. Not Stirring the Rice Pudding Frequently While Cooking

As soon as you add the rice and milk to the pan, stir it as frequently as you can. This is a simple step, but a lot of things can go wrong when you skip it. 

For one, there’s a high chance that the rice will stick to the bottom of the pan. And if it’s left long enough, there’s even a risk that your pudding will get burnt. 

Not only that, but not stirring the rice pudding frequently can also result in a lumpy and grainy texture. 

10. Not Using a Non-stick Pan

Since you’ll mainly be cooking the rice and milk mixture on the stovetop, you need to use the right kind of pan—the nonstick pan.

This type of pan is coated with a special type of coating that will prevent the ingredients from sticking to the pan. 

This will help you to achieve and enjoy a nice and smooth pudding. Not only that, but it will also ensure that your cleanup will be a breeze!

Learn more:

11. Not Trying Different Rice Pudding Variations

We know that the classic rice pudding recipe is already delicious in itself. But if you wish to enjoy rice pudding in all its glory, we highly suggest that you try its different local variations all around the globe.

All you need is a few simple add-ons and you can instantly transform this classic recipe into a whole new cultural experience. With that said, here are some of the variations you may want to check out:

Kheer (Indian Rice Pudding)

As compared to the classic version, this is wetter and has a more liquid consistency. It’s also more spiced and nuttier because it contains popular Indian spices like cardamom, cashews, and rose water.

Mexican Rice Pudding

This one doesn’t have spices or other flavorings, but it uses condensed milk in addition to regular milk. This results in a sweeter taste and thicker consistency.

Arroz Con Leche (Spanish Rice Pudding)

Same with the Mexican version, it also uses condensed milk. But what separates it is the type of rice used. 

Instead of long-grain rice, the Spanish version uses arborio rice which is a shorter and plumper grain.

Some Spanish recipes also call for the addition of citrus ingredients (lime zest or orange peel) to balance off the dessert’s sweet taste.  

Arroz con Dulce (Puerto Rican Rice Pudding)

Its taste is similar to that of the Indian version because spices are used to add flavor to the dish. But instead of cardamom, this recipe calls for ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. 

The Final Word

Rice pudding has simple ingredients, but it can be a tricky dessert to prepare if you don’t know what you’re doing.

So before you start making one, be sure to familiarize yourself with all the potential rice pudding mistakes you might commit. Lucky for you, we’ve already provided you with the most common ones along with potential solutions and tips.

Now, all you need to do is keep these in mind and follow them, so you can get to enjoy the best rice pudding you can ever try.

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